Lot 7
  • 7

Kees van Dongen

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 USD
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  • Kees van Dongen
  • Fatimah Ismaël de Louxor
  • Signed Van Dongen (upper right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 21 7/8 by 18 1/8 in.
  • 55.5 by 46 cm


Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (acquired from the artist in 1913)

Leonce Rosenberg, Paris

Galerie A. Urban, Paris

Private Collection (and sold: Sotheby’s, London, December 1, 1987, lot 27)

Acquired at the above sale


Marseille, Musée Cantini, Hommage à Van Dongen, 1969, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue (dated 1908)

Lausanne, Galerie Paul Vallotton, Hommage à Van Dongen, 1971, no. 6

Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Kees Van Dongen, 1989-90no. 40, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Fauvism - Wild Beasts, 1996, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Exhibition Van Dongen, 2002, no. 50, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Louis Chaumeil, Van Dongen, l'Homme et l'Artiste, la Vie et l'Oeuvre, Geneva, 1967, illustrated in color pl. XXII

Jean Melas-Kyriazi, Van Dongen et le Fauvisme, Lausanne & Paris, 1971, illustrated in color p. 128

All Eyes on Van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010, mentioned p. 103, illustrated in a photograph p. 104

Catalogue Note

Van Dongen’s fascination with the exotic and the unusual led him to travel much further afield than many of his fellow Fauves. The brilliantly colored Fatimah Ismaël de Louxor was the outcome of his recent journey to Egypt. Previously the artist had travelled to Spain and Morocco in 1910 and 1911, returning to Paris with vivid, exuberant impressions of both countries, but his later experience of Egypt was particularly affecting. Discussing the present work, Jean Melas Kyriazi writes: “In March 1913 Van Dongen traveled to Egypt and discovered the country’s violent combination of colour and atmosphere which relaunched his Fauvism. Van Dongen became again a 'wild beast.' His style simplified, using strong outlines and playing freely with color, and giving particular prominence to red, as we see in his paintings L’Egyptienne and Fatimah Ismaël of Luxor, which can be compared with the Femme aux colonnes [now in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris] one of many paintings from his trip to Morocco in 1910” (J. M. Kyriazi, op. cit., Lausanne & Paris, 1971, pp. 126-130. Translated from French).

Almost entirely devoted to portraiture and depicting the human form, from his first association with the Fauves Van Dongen developed a unique manner of painting figures. Extremely broad and fluid brush work and rich coloration served to highlight the most expressive features of his subjects, and as Kyriazi has noted, red was by far his most favored color. However, Van Dongen was not alone amongst the Fauves to use red so extensively. Matisse also recognized the expressive and lyrical potential of using red, most notably in the entirely red figures in both his large-scale compositions of 1910 - Musique and Danse (II). Van Dongen's use of red was far more wide-ranging, and intrinsic to his own interpretation of Fauvism’s formal qualities, as John Klein explains: "In his portraits and female nudes from this long Fauve period, Van Dongen uses the colour red liberally and voluptuously, as a signifier of ardour, sex, and blood. Flooding the faces and bodies of Egyptians or Moroccans, it also signifies the exotic…. When Matisse disingenuously placed all the weight of Fauvism on a single colour, it would not be surprising if he were making a covert reference to Van Dongen's reddish predilections. But by his extravagant deployment of red, Van Dongen was not vitiating its attention-getting effect - he was doing for Fauvism what Matisse and the others, too restless, and too devoted to the necessity of self-expression in their work, would not.  He was [making] Fauve style accessible... with an appeal beyond the narrow confines of the avant-garde" (J. Klein in Van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts & Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Monte Carlo, 2008, p. 223).